Research: I was taken aback by a recent opinion piece in which James Delisle proclaims that differentiation is a farce. These are strong words for a practice we believe is so fundamental to learning! He agrees that the theoretical benefits of differentiation are great: determining what students know and still need to learn, allowing students to demonstrate what they know in multiple ways, and encouraging depth and complexity in the learning/teaching process. But in practice, it simply cannot be implemented in the traditional heterogeneous classroom where so many types of learners are lumped together.
Practice: Herein lies the qualification of his claim. When we think of schools and classrooms in traditional ways, he’s right—differentiation cannot take place. It can work, however, when we create a new vision of schooling. At Chrysalis differentiation is an inherent part of our program. It is a natural element of the individualized class and can easily be incorporated into small groups that group students according to ability. (Maybe we should invite him in to show him how it’s done!)